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Most of Quebec’s long guns still unregistered with deadline fast approaching

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The deadline for Quebecers to register their firearms is just over two weeks away, but the vast majority of guns in the province remain unregistered.

Quebec’s Public Security Ministry says that 311,451 of the province’s unrestricted firearms, which include hunting rifles, carbines and other long guns, have been registered so far.

That’s up from 294,125 before the holidays, but is still less than 20 per cent of the 1.6 million firearms that were registered in the province when the federal registry was in effect.

Ministry employees were at a gun show this weekend in Longueuil, south of Montreal, providing information and paperwork to gun owners so that they can register by the Jan. 29 deadline.

Firearms can be registered by mail or online. The process is free. Once the weapons are registered, gun owners will have 90 days to affix a serial number to them. 

Steve Torino, the director of security for the Lower Canada Arms Collectors Association, which put on the exhibition, says that the percentage of gun owners in compliance is likely even lower than 19 per cent. 

More guns around since federal registry scrapped

Gun dealers, he says, account for a large share of the firearms already registered. He also estimates the number of firearms in Quebec has risen to about two million since the federal registry was scrapped six years ago.

“It’s already been tried once,” said Torino of the registry. “It didn’t work and it cost them an enormous amount of money.”

Steve Torino, director of security for the Lower Canada Arms Collectors Association, says the registry is ineffective and expensive. (CBC Montreal)

His organization, which is made up of collectors and focuses on historical firearms, is encouraging gun owners to comply with the new law.

But he says he also supports the efforts of groups such as the National Firearms Association, which is lobbying against the law and is calling for gun owners to wait until the last minute to register their guns as a means of protest.

Some call for boycott of registry

Other gun owners have taken to social media to call for a complete boycott of the provincial registry.

“You’re targeting the wrong audience,” said Torino. He argues that people using guns for criminal purposes will not register their weapons anyway, and that gun owners already undergo a thorough federal licensing process.

Guillaume Harmant is currently going through that licensing process. He said he didn’t have much of an interest in guns until he joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

“It’s a sport. It’s an outdoor activity like anything else for me,” he said.

He says those in favour of a provincial registry are likely not informed about the background checks involved in getting a firearm licence in Canada, and are instead thinking about the relatively lax gun laws in many U.S. states.

Guillaume Harmant is in the process of obtaining a licence to own unrestricted firearms. (CBC Montreal)

“I think it’s a safe process,” he said. But once he’s legally able to own a gun, he plans on registering his firearms with the Quebec government.

“Yes it is a really dangerous object. It is designed to kill things. But registering the firearm doesn’t make it more safe,” he said.

Those who do not register their firearms by the deadline can face fines of up to $5,000.

Gun-control advocates, such as survivors of the Polytechnique shooting of 1989, are urging the provincial government to enforce the law once it goes into effect at the end of the month.

They argue the registry will help law enforcement learn more about where guns come from that are used in violent crimes.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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